Q: “I recently launched a website for business professionals to advertise and find office space across North America. How I can increase my following on Facebook, so I can get more traffic to my site?”– Jeff Windecker, JW Communications, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
dM's Answer: “I had coworking space for several months last year. While I closed it earlier this year, I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot about the unique needs of business and my family. I LIKED your FaceBook Page last week, and have been watching things for a few days. Jeff, attracting a FaceBook following is probably not your biggest challenge right now. Be sure to check out some of my best FaceBook advice. For you in particular, there are several things I would suggest, but let's start with the basics.
- Hone the plan. While it's a good idea, especially in this economy, to create a site where people can find shared office space, I'm not sensing a business plan here. You are competing against every newspaper in the country, plus sites like Craig's List, and coworking sites, including this pretty cool Wiki, and this this Google coworking group where people share and discuss office space needs. Those sites connect landlords with prospective tenants quickly and for free. Your site looks nice enough, but if I was seeking office space, I would not find it at your site today.
Ask people who lease office space whether or not they would advertise at your site. This way, you will learn what attracts them and what turns them off, and you can hone your business plan from there.
- Create community. In order to attract sponsors, your business plan must include first attracting and then leading a community of your sponsors's customers. This community must be visible at the FaceBook Page and the website (and elsewhere as you grow), and they must cross-promote one another. (I don't see a link to your FaceBook Page at your site.)
People who come to your site are not going to buy an ad the first time out, but they might buy an ad after they see a community of people that look like their customers.
Creating community around any business is tricky and challenging. But make no mistake about it — you can offer the best product or service in the world, but without community, it doesn't much matter.
- Create LOCAL community. … While we're on the topic of community … I'm not in the commercial real estate business, but my sense is that it will be difficult to create a national community of people interested in leasing office space unless the community is organized around localized areas. This makes me wonder whether the better approach may be to focus on one city to start, and then duplicate what works across multiple geographic locations. This way, you'll have an overall “mega-community,” but the real action will happen at the local level. Isn't that what landlords care about? Connecting with people who are in the city where their office space is located?
If I have space for lease in San Francisco (I wish, by the way!), I probably won't buy an ad at a site that lists space in any other city — unless my particular city can be found easily and quickly found.
- Share useful information Office sharing and coworking are hot topics. Here's an article from Bloomberg Business Week, and another from USA Today. This is good news for you because you can easily find and share links to articles at your FaceBook Page to initiate conversation and add life. You might plan to post these types of articles a few days this week, and let your personal friends know so they can LIKE your page and leave a comment. They can also help you get the 25 LIKERs you need to reserve your brand username on FaceBook.
Honestly, Jeff, though I may be wrong, I don't sense that the big issue here is attracting people to a FaceBook Page or a website. I sense that the big issue is the need for a business plan. (See #1, above.)
I'm interested to know your feedback and the feedback of others with experience and questions in this area. Keep me posted on how things go, Jeff. I wish you the best!” –dM
Learn more about JW Communications.
Questions: Did you visit the site and FaceBook Page? What do you think of my suggestions for Jeff? What's your advice?
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